COLCHESTER town centre is set to change dramatically over the coming years.

In part influenced by the Covid pandemic and the changing retail market, some big names are likely to be leaving the high street soon.

But there are also more positive changes on their way, with huge investment on its way to the town centre.

One part of the town is set to see more of this investment than most.

The area around St Nicholas Square, in St Nicholas Street, is set to undergo a total revamp.

The old co-op department store, in Long Wyre Street, is being totally transformed into a new retail, leisure and homes development, anchored by a new Loungers restaurant.

St Nicholas Square itself is also set to undergo a total revamp, being made into a new open space for visitors to the town centre.

The former Jack's store nearby has also been completely transformed in order for Other Monkey Brewing, a side business of Three Wise Monkeys, to set up inside.

Here is what we know about the changes planned for the area:

Co-op redevelopment

Loungers opening new Colchester restaurant at ?5.5m revamped Co-op


The long-awaited revamp of Colchester's former East of England Co-op has been ongoing since 2017.

The £5.5 million project will see the building turned into five new restaurants, two shops and 24 apartments.

Loungers has been secured as the anchor tenant for the scheme and will open Romano Lounge once works are complete.

The firm is a restaurant giant in the UK and famous for its Cosy Club and Lounge brands.

It will be the only firm's restaurant in Colchester, the nearest at the moment being the Valero Lounge in Witham, Prado Lounge in Sudbury and Cosy Club in Ipswich.

Property consultant Jamieson Mills is marketing the remaining units and is in discussions with a number of interested parties.

The homes will be let and managed by Fenn Wright Colchester with two of them affordable properties.

Nick Denny, joint chief executive of the East of England Co-op, said: "We’re absolutely delighted to announce Loungers as our tenant for this development.

"We are confident that as the development is completed and social distancing restrictions are lifted, this will prove a popular destination.

"I am delighted that our vision is coming to fruition.

"Town centres have changed. I see them as a place to live, work and enjoy leisure experiences.

"This scheme is designed to offer just that.

"The changes to St Nicholas Square, to which we contributed, will further enhance this part of Colchester town centre, and provide space for outside dining."

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St Nicholas Square

St Nicholas Square Colchester


The redevelopment of St Nicholas Square will bring al fresco dining to the town centre as well as providing a range of new open space.

Colchester Council is working on the plans with the We Are Colchester partnership, which also includes Essex County Council and business leaders.

The group has already secured funding for the revamp from the Government’s Town Deal fund.

Initial designs for the square, which is set to be complete this year, feature space for seating, market stalls and outdoor events.

The pavements are set to be made wider with space for bars, cafés and restaurants in the area to have outside seating.

St Nicholas Square Colchester


There will be more cycle parking and the whole of the area will be landscaped with a number of new trees planted.

St Nicholas Street could become one way to traffic, with access from the High Street stopped but maintained from Culver Street East.

One of the existing loading bays will be maintained, with the rest set to go.

Emergency vehicles will still be able to access nearby Lion Walk Shopping Centre via the new square.

The graveyards in the area will be moved or incorporated into the development.

David King, Colchester councillor responsible for business and resources, said: “This investment will be a real boost for retail and hospitality businesses and I am extremely pleased work on this project is moving forward."

You can find out more about the project here.

Jack's revamp

Jacks Colchester


Jack's was one of the town's most iconic shops back in its day, but has been closed for many years.

In 2018 work began to convert the old hardware store, in St Nicholas Street, so next door bar Three Wise Monkeys could move its Other Monkey Brewing arm into the premises.

Work is now pretty much complete.

Renovation works proved slightly more problematic than expected as a Roman bath house was discovered under the property.

Jacks Colchester


Further work is also ongoing to create new flats in nearby Lion Walk Shopping Centre.

When will plans be complete?

All of the projects should be complete by the end of 2021 if things go well.